I recently had a conversation with a few of my classmates (Whats Up Missouri Western Northland Cohort). One day after class we were talking about potential job options. As the conversation began we were describing our ideal job and all of the reasons that it would be perfect for us. We discussed how great it would be to become a full time paraprofessional, especially one who receives benefits (A Paraprofessional is someone who works with or assists a professional or certified teacher). We all went on to agree this would be the best job to have; a paradise of sorts. It would allow us to work with students without the pressures of having to lesson plan, be in charge, or take responsibility if something were to go wrong.

Our conversation concluded as we agreed that simply showing up, following a few directions, and dodging all of the pressures and responsibilities of being a fulltime teacher would be an ideal situation.


As I reflect on the conversation I realize how often I fall into the trap of seeking an easy and comfortable life, specifically when it comes to future job options. Everything inside me tells me to settle for easy, settle for comfortable, and settle for less.

Show up,

Do what you’re told,


This mentality seems to be flooding our society, our culture, and our generation.

(Excuse my randomness as I reach to make a connection. Keep in mind I love puns. Welcome to my mind.)

In Coldplay’s song “Paradise” the main line is “Para…Para…Paradise.” This extremely catchy, and slightly annoying, chorus always gets stuck in my head and leaves me singing, humming, and bobbing my head to the song for the rest of the day.

In the same way this song gets stuck in our heads I think the “para…para…paradise” mentality can sneak it’s way into our life. We find ourselves thinking (or singing) that a para job would be paradise. Our generation seems to be not only content with having jobs like a paraprofessional; we might actually be striving for them. Yes, they would be easier. Yes, they would be more comfortable. But is that the goal? Where does making an impact, having influence, and chasing our passions come into play?

I think we can start with answering these 3 questions:

  1. Are we okay with simply being told what to do and following directions?
  2. Do we want to just show up and get by?
  3. Are we only seeking a job that is comfortable and easy?
  • Are we looking to invest and be involved in something that matters?
  • Are we willing to do the hard work needed to contribute our art? (Art = talents, skills, and abilities that are unique to YOU)
  • Can we work towards a job where we embrace the pressures and responsibilities because we know it will be worth it?

You have skills, abilities, and talents unlike anyone else in your community. You owe it to yourself, and to everyone around you, to strive for your full potential. It won’t be easy, it may not be comfortable, but I promise it will be worth it.

Join the conversation:

  • How are YOU pursuing your passions despite having to work hard and be a little uncomfortable? (Brag a about yourself a little bit!)
  • What elements would you use to choose your dream job?
  • Lastly, why the heck is Coldplay so popular?



  • Yes I realize this song is not actually about being a paraprofessional.
  • No you shouldn’t comment and tell me the real meaning of the song.
  • I have nothing against paraprofessionals. In fact, I am one.

4 thoughts on “Para-Para-Paradise

  1. I think I have pursued my passions despite having the unfortunate circumstances that may hinder the pathway to success. Then again, what’s the point of working hard if you’re just going to slow down. I love documentary films, and despite being jobless, broke, and unsupported, I made a feature length documentary on homelessness last semester. Outside of still having to finish the editing on that documentary, I funded a cross country documentary trip which I’ll release in September. Even though I’m “jobless” now, I’ve had about 4 or 5 businesses contact me to do promotions and videos for their businesses. Should I slow down even though it gets hard? Of course not. It’s a lot of work juggling this many things at one time, but that’s what separates the amateur from the professional in the media business.

    Don’t know why Coldplay is popular. Really heartfelt songs I think, without being as obnoxious as LMFAO.

    • Dragon!
      Good to hear from you and thanks for your input. I think it is great that you are pursuing your passion to create films even thought it is not always easy. I am looking forward to the art you produce in the future.

  2. Ok. Here it goes. I know a little piece of you is going to die inside, but I’m going to say it anyway. Because I believe it. I am completely fine with leading a mediocre life. I don’t need a lot to be happy. I’m content with what I have been blessed with and I don’t take it for granted.
    My passion is working with individuals with special needs. I may screw a lot of things up in life, but this I know, is something I can do right. I feel to my core it’s what I’ve been called to do. That being said, being a para would absolutely be my dream job. Yeah, I said it. Boom. But not for the reasons you think. I don’t think this because it would be an easier route (yes, I know it would), but rather because it highlights the job opportunities that I crave.
    If you think paras “simply show up, follow a few directions, and dodge responsibilities” I would have to disagree with you, whole heartedly. I see a para as more of a person who invests a lot of time and energy building relationships with these students, who often times, need it the most. They are the ones who get to work on one on one levels with them. They get to know them on a deeper level where the “actual” teacher may not have the time to. These are the reasons I want this job. Not to settle or take the easy way out, but to make the biggest impact and difference in these kids’ lives the best way I know how, relationally.
    There are other perks with this job that I’m not going to mention now because 1. I talked about the most important one and 2. I’m doing this on my phone and it’s hard to type (Uh oh, did I just take the easy way out?)
    Well. There you have it Jord, did I make my point ok?!

    • Erin, I am glad you stepped into the conversation and were willing to share your thoughts and opinions!

      First of all, I am sorry if I was not clear in the post but I do not think being a paraprofessional in an easy job. They do have a very important role in the classroom and just like Dr. Eicher always says, “a good para is worth their weight in gold.” I have a lot of respect for paras and I can say from hours of experience of being a para at Maple Valley that it is not an easy gig. The blog post was based around an example of being a para but I meant for the whole idea to be more broad, not just specific to special education teachers and paras in the classroom.

      Also, I’m not sure I was clear in the post when I connected “show up, do what you’re told, & leave” to a para job. I meant to connect those steps to my inner desires to have an easy ad comfortable job.

      All that being said, I think no matter what job you end up with 1 year from now (it’s sneaking up on us!) you will in NO way be mediocre. I can say this with 100% confidence. I have been in lots of tough classes with you and I have witnessed you get a 4.0 GPA. I have seen you around students with special needs and you are absolutely incredible. I respect and admire how passionate you are and how well you lead and love these students. If you decide to be a fulltime para there will be absolutely nothing mediocre about you. I think that your job title has very little to do with how “successful” you will be as a person. You are more than your job title. I know for certain that you will make an impact on student’s lives, have lots of positive influence on your co-workers and students, and will continue to chase your passions in a meaningful way.

      You said it yourself, “These are the reasons I want this job. Not to settle or take the easy way out, but to make the biggest impact and difference in these kids’ lives the best way I know how: relationally”

      Thanks again for commenting, Erin.

      Have a good day!

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